Housed up here in Special Collections & Archives are more than just books. With everything from photos to films to memorabilia to newspapers, there’s just as an expansive array of materials as there are subjects.
One such material can be found in Collection 62, a single box containing a moment in history shrouded in a dead language: three silk banners written in Medieval Latin produced in the 18th century to advertise various debates on matters of law.
Even to someone whose studied the language, it can be difficult to comprehend what “matters of law” could even be. The religious overtones are hard to miss, but the “conclusio” are a bit tricky. Academically, Classical Latin is what is taught to students wanting to pick up, say, The Aeneid, and read the original text. However, Medieval Latin is a very different matter. As stated by the name, it is the Latin taught and used during the medieval era for religious purposes, mostly for scripture transcribed by Catholic priests. Because it was not a commonly spoken language, nor anyone’s first language, the grammar of Medieval Latin, as opposed to Classical, tends to suffer. That makes translators today a bit skeptical of any possible translations.
One possible translation for the text written in the bold at the top, as a sort of forward to following “conclusio”, is this (just to give you a sense of what’s going on):
“Beautiful as the moon
Noble as the sun
Mirror of sanctity
Miracle of virtues
Daughter of the Father,
Mother of divine words
Bride of the Holy Spirit
And finally virgin
Conceived without any of the original sin from the fall.
Conception of the Sacred Virgin Mary.
Singular, amazing, and without original sin”
Following this is the “epigrama”, a tale of a virgin conception of a child without original sin.
And then following this are the “conclusio”. One can only assume that what this is referring to are the conclusions one can draw from said tale and what legal grounds they hold as such. In retrospect, such arguments used during a debate of law during the medieval era was common; there was no separation of church and state.
The first conclusion, “prima conclusio”, translates roughly to:
“Just as with life, apprehensive ownerships are acquired of properties, therefore opposed favor, and objection made shall oblige to the Defendant”
The next five conclusions follow the same pattern and tone.
This just being the first of three banners, all are similar in subject and language. For someone studying law debates of the medival era, these could certainly prove useful and an interesting read.
To check out these banners, all of the materials are available for viewing in Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives Monday-Thursday, 9:00-4:30.
Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.
This post was compiled by student worker Mary Graci.